Some months back, while in Shenzhen, I had the opportunity to visit an Electric Balance Scooter factory, or if you like, Hoverboard factory.
A lot of the LED factories, e-cigarette factories in Shenzhen are located in the sub-districts, such as Shajing which is where we headed. Now, when the word factory is mention you may have conjure up images of large sheds or warehouse type buildings, yes there is those, but actually many manufacturers start out in industrial bases which are simply row after row of multi-level concrete slab buildings, nothing glitzy nor glamorous.
The factory owner drove out the subway station and picked us up personally, and like all Chinese, very warm with his welcome and hospitality. He was just starting production of various products after months of research and his venture occupied a single floor of probably 300sqm in total.
Components were delivered from various suppliers, and this was where the assembly took place, at that time, mostly of the stand-up electric balance scooters, or segway clones.
We where introduced to the hoverboard, which was just coming onto the market at that stage, and production was about to begin.
As you can see in the photos it’s a simple operation, one long table acts as the assembly line where workers put together all the components that are sourced from other factories, including motors, tyres, housings and batteries.
Chatting with the owner he revealed the essential component to track down was the software and circuitry that controls the balance operation of the scooter. Is that technology open source or patented, I don’t know, it’s China and I don’t think those questions are ever asked. The rest is not too difficult barring some trial and error with motor sizes, doing deals with existing component suppliers who are already producing these components for others scooter producers.
There were all kinds of other electric bikes and scooters lying around, but I think everyone at that time new what the focus product was going to be, the newly arrived Hoverboard, and looking back, that turned out to be true.